Activities / Western Cape

Easy Walks Cape Town: A couple of the easiest and most beautiful walks in Cape Town

Updated Monday, 28 January 2019

It’s not always easy to find walks on which you can take a four year old. Actually, to be more frank, because his level of fitness easily surpasses mine, it isn’t easy to find walks that a four year old will complete. If he chooses not to, and this is more often than not, then our backs or shoulders become his transport.

So the walk definitely needs to accommodate our needs more than his – short, sweet and with incredible views, is probably the sum total on my list. My husband’s would probably go something like – flat, short, places to sit down and a lot of distraction – similar enough for us to agree easily on where and when we set forth …

Constantia

Easy Walks Cape Town: The walk that starts at the Constantia Nek parking lot and ends in Kirstenbosch Gardens fits the bill perfectly, bar the fact that there need to be two cars involved (one for each end of the walk) or one of you gets to jog back to fetch it, and believe me, the walk from Constantia to Kirstenbosch might be flat and easy to do, but the way back leaves Kirstenbosch at quite a slope up the mountain side. And doing the walk the other way, from Kirstenbosch to Constantia Nek, involves an entrance fee (you get into Kirstenbosch for free if you come at it from Constantia Nek).

The walk is part of a contour path that runs all the way along from Devil’s Peak to Constantia Nek. Really it serves as an access route through the numerous tree plantations and pockets of indigenous forest on Table Mountain’s eastern slopes.

The walk starts under a canopy of trees, slightly uphill until you reach the contour path. Actually the entire walk is well shaded and almost always beneath trees. The parking lot is right on the circle opposite Constantia Nek restaurant. Once you’re on the path it will fork after a bit. Almost every time we do this walk, one of us forgets that we were confused on the previous walk and we forget to the take the left fork, which heads up the hill. The uphill path is the bridle path and it offers some incredible views over False Bay.

Hiking in South Africa

There are no other spots on the walk where it isn’t obvious where one is travelling. If taking the path over a weekend, you’re also assured of enough fellow travellers and their dogs to follow, that getting lost doesn’t even enter into the equation. It’s a wonderful lazy stroll kind of walk that doesn’t require your forever watching your feet incase you land in a donga – perfect if you’re catching up on the past week with your spouse because it’s the only moment of respite from the verbal diarrhoea that is a young child at any other time.

There is one climb up steep log steps, but you’re not far from Kirstenbosch by this stage. We usually exit along the path that takes us past a dam (you can’t miss it) and into the southern outskirts of Kirstenbosch Gardens. Our car we usually leave at the third parking area, outside of Kirstenbosch close to the Rycroft Gate or top gate – it’s just easier to get one’s picnic out of the boot after your thighs have taken a bit of a hammering on the downhill into the gardens. Trekking across Kirstenbosch to one of the other parking areas before lunch could leave you worse for wear.

There is nothing nicer than spreading your blanket under a canopy of trees in the upper reaches of the garden, the southern suburbs spread beneath you and whatever mouthwatering temptations you packed into your basket to devour. An afternoon snooze is not out of the question either, children dependent of course.

in Newlands Forest

The other really fun walk is at Newlands Forest and takes around an hour and a half. The great thing about this walk is that it’s in the shade for most of the time, so perfect for those hot summer days. The idea is to walk towards the mountain from the forest station at Newlands. Take the right fork and head for the trees.

It’s an easy walk, even the inclines are not particularly steep, and any climbing is perfectly doable for little ones. Some people do this in the their lunch breaks in an attempt to invigorate tiring brains, and I can understand why, as it’s a particularly beautiful place to be and, when still enough, has an almost surreal feel to it.

Newlands has also created what is known as the Littlewort Trail aimed at children, to introduce them to the ecology of an afromontane forest (such as the one at Newlands). If you’re interested, I think you can pick up a brochure about the trail from Table Mountain National Park in Westlake (021 701 8692). It’s a form of self-guided tour and one gets to follow letters of the alphabet through the forest.

But even if you do not manage to get your hands on a brochure, you can follow the Littlewort signs or just wander at will through the forest as there are some incredible things to see, like exposed roots of trees, little streams, all sorts of tree funghi (brackets) and even a few benches on which to rest weary legs.

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